Love Cocoa Hip

Money from the £4.3m round will also go towards driving distribution for sub-brand Hip Chocolate

Ethical chocolate maker Love Cocoa – founded by Cadbury descendant James Cadbury – has secured a multimillion-pound investment to support its next stage of development, including opening a retail store.

Money from the £4.3m round will also go towards driving distribution for sub-brand Hip Chocolate, which launched in Sainsbury’s last year, and growing the senior management team to include a new finance director and head of marketing.

Love Cocoa has ambitious plans to take the fight to rival premium chocolatier Hotel Chocolat by opening 10 bricks-and-mortar outlets over the next three years.

James Cadbury, a descendant of Cadbury founder John Cadbury, said the first physical store under the Love Cocoa fascia would open later this year.

“Retail is moving to an omnichannel approach, and we see the opportunity to innovate with our new stores offering unique, experiential moments,” he added.

“Alongside that, consumers are wanting to come back to the high street and that gives us the opportunity to deliver sensory chocolate experiences that simply can’t be achieved shopping online. We see this as a real game-changer for the business.”

Entrepreneur Richard Koch, who has backed the likes of coffee chain Grind and Plymouth Gin, led the investment round.

“I’m excited to be working with him [Koch] on driving the strategic development of both Love Cocoa and Hip Chocolate, helping propel them from challenger brands to chocolate industry powerhouses,” Cadbury added.

Koch said: “Love Cocoa and Hip Chocolate are at the forefront of sustainable chocolate innovation. I’m looking forward to supporting the business on the next stage of its incredible journey.”

Cadbury launched Love Cocoa in 2016, offering a letterbox-friendly chocolate service. It has since developed to put sustainable credentials at the heart of the business and claims to be one of the first chocolate producers to offer 100% plastic-free packaging.

As well as bar chocolate, Love Cocoa’s range has grown to include truffles and selection boxes, and can be found in Anthropologie, Harrods, Fenwick, John Lewis, Liberty and Selfridges.

The plant-based Hip brand, which uses oat milk in the manufacturing process, launched in 2021. It recently secured listings in Sainsbury’s and Tesco in Ireland, and is also stocked in Booths, Holland & Barrett and Ocado.

The business claims to have a combined retail value of more than £10m and has achieved more than 300% growth over the past two years.

“This is an immensely exciting time for the business, and I believe 2023 will be a landmark year for us,” Cadbury said.

Love Cocoa chairman Giles Brook, who joined the company in 2021, added: “Love Cocoa continues to rise and rise, becoming one of the leading luxury chocolate brands, whilst Hip is making a name for itself as the standout vegan-based chocolate brand winning on taste and importantly (non) milky texture, where it is replicating its dairy counterparts incredibly.”